earnings, portfolio »

[12 Jun 2011 | Comments Off on Return Per Image (RPI) from My Microstock Portfolio – 3 Year Trends | ]
Return Per Image (RPI) from My Microstock Portfolio – 3 Year Trends

RPI (Return per Image) is potentially very useful statistics for a stock photography portfolio. However, there is a lot of controversy around it. Some microstock contributor consider RPI completely worthless. Others are using to predict future earnings from microstock or to estimate how many pictures they need to add to a portfolio to reach a certain level of earnings. There is also a common belief that RPI has to go down with a growing portfolio.

RPI as any other statistics to be meaningful must be based on a sufficient number of data. So, it is not a really reliable for a small portfolio or for an agency with low sales. There is certain irony here, since it would be the most useful when we just starting submitting to microstock.

Calculating RPI is straightforward for a single agency – just divide earnings from sales by the number of pictures in your portfolio there for a given time period, e.g., a month. It is getting more complicated when you are submitting pictures to multiple agencies. You cannot calculate RPI separately for each agency and then add those numbers together. That would be mathematically incorrect. You need to use the same number of pictures for each agency, e.g., the average size of your portfolio.

To derive the total RPI for my portfolio I am using the total number of pictures prepared for microstock. After 3.5 years of my microstock adventure I have around 3400 pictures in my stock portfolio: 64% in iStockphoto, 82% in Shutterstock, 60% in Dreamstime and 64% Fotolia counting just the 4 top agencies. I do not analyze separately other agencies with lower sales, instead I am looking at total sales from them as “others” (Bigstock, 123RF, Canstock, Veer, Graphic Letfovers, Deposit Photos, Panther Media, StockFresh, FeaturePics)

dreamstime, istock, portfolio, shutterstock »

[20 Nov 2010 | Comments Off on Growth of My Microstock Portfolio in 4 Top Agencies | ]
Growth of My Microstock Portfolio in 4 Top Agencies

This is a supplement to the previous posts discussing trends in 3 years of my microstock earnings and contributions from different agencies.

Let’s look at the growth of my portfolio in iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Fotolia. These are my 4 top microstock performers providing 88% of income. I submit pictures regularly preparing between 50 and 100 new files each month.

The gray line above represents a number of all pictures (jpg) produced for microstock including rejects, multiple versions and files which were not submitted. So, this is a measure of my work and efforts rather than a number of files available for stock. I used that number as a reference to derive RPI (return per image).

After 3 years I have quite different portfolios in various agencies. Shutterstock has the highest number of my pictures (2269 by the end of October 2010). Nowadays they accepted almost all pictures. Dreamstime with 1,761 files takes the 2nd place. However, my DT portfolio is growing slower during last year than in other agencies due to their review policy (“too many similar pictures”).

My numbers for IS (1628) and Fotolia (1614) look quite similar, but those portfolio are quite different. FT accepts most pictures rejected by DT. My landscape and industrial pictures rejected by FT are usually selling in IS. It is interesting that the IS portfolio contains some unique pictures which were not accepted by SS, DT or FT.

dreamstime, earnings, istock, portfolio »

[24 Jul 2010 | 2 Comments | ]
Big 4 in My Microstock Portfolio

iStockphoto, ShutterStock, Dreamstime and Fotolia are considered nowadays a Big 4 among microstock agencies. Indeed, they bring together between 80 and 90% of my earnings from microstock photography. After 32 months of submitting the size and content of my portfolio at different agencies are quite different: iStock – 1425 pictures, Shutterstock – 2024, Dreamstime – 1586, Fotolia – 1392.

The above graph show percentage of my earnings from the Big 4 agencies and other mictostock sites during last 2.5 years. I plotted quarterly values to smooth out month to month fluctuations.

I started to submit my pictures to iStock in November 2007 and that agency dominated my earnings until I got accepted by Shutterstock. Then, Shutterstock took a lead for a year so. In the beginning of 2009 my sales at iStock started to grow and today iStock in my number 1 with 40-50% of all microstock earnings. Is it a permanent trend? My sales at iStock are slowing down despite of reaching a gold level which allows me to submit more pictures.

Dreamstime is holding number 3 in my microstock earnings with a pretty steady contribution of about 10%. The number 4, Fotolia, shows some growth recently.

All remaining microstock agencies contribute currently about 12% to my income. I can divide them into two groups: (1) agencies with regular payouts every month or every second month (BigStock, 123RF, CanStockPhoto, Panther Media) and (2) agencies where need several months or a year to reach payout level (Veer, FeaturePics, DepositPhotos, Graphic Leftovers).

goals & milestones, istock »

[26 May 2010 | 6 Comments | ]
10,000 Downloads from iStockphoto

I started my adventure with microstock photography with submitting pictures to iStockphoto in November 2007 and, later, to other agencies. Today, I just reached the golden canister level at iStock. The picture below crossed that milestone of 10,000 downloads.

Nowadays, iStock dominates my microstock sales providing more than 40% of earnings with a portfolio of ~1300 pictures.

I am getting more upload slots, 25 instead of 20 per week, which is nice. I don’t think that I am really ready to upload more pictures to iStock, but the process will be more convenient. I am not sure if there are any other benefits of reaching the gold level in my case, i.e., not an exclusive photographer.

Some milestones in my iStock performance during last 2 and half years:

Related post:
Microstock Earnings – First 30 Months

earnings, goals & milestones, portfolio »

[9 May 2010 | 6 Comments | ]
Microstock Earnings – First 30 Months

Where are my monthly microstock earnings reports? I stopped posting them … December 2009 was the last one. I was busy shooting recently. And, those monthly graphs got a little bit boring. However, I am going to write some more general posts on trends in microstock photography from my own perspective.

I am trying to follow my microstock business model as described in my earlier posts: Am I Really Making Money from Microstock Photography ? Part 1 and Part 2. I treat microstock photography as a part time job (1/3 of my time = about 60 hours/month) and I tried to keep all related expenses below 30% of total sales.

How that business model works for me in practice? I ended the 2009 year with a little bit more than 40% in expenses due to a new Canon 5D/II camera with two lenses I bought by the end of the year. My expenses should go down to 30% when looking together at 2009 and the first half of 2010. However, I am not sure if my 30% model is sustainable in a long run unless I significantly increase my sales.

60 hours per month? Well, I am sure I am doing some overtime … I could record hours spent at my home table top studio and in front of a computer, but it would be difficult to clearly separate my part time microstock photography from pictures shot just for fun during paddling or hiking (some of them are ending up in my microstock portfolio).

I gathered 30 months of data including sales estimates for May 2010. So, let’s look at some trends.

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